Monday, January 08, 2007

Oil Price Profiteering – Whose Doing What to Whom?

Okay, I’ve been waiting for the truth for as long as I can and now I’m convinced there is little truth of substance forthcoming from the hallowed halls of the free press of America. That’s just fine as long as the public understands the truth may be absent from reporting. It reminds me of a time about 10 years ago when I was in Moscow, as in Russia. I was searching for missing Stalin and Communist party film archives at a secret building in the frontier outside Moscow, on the perimeter of a former Soviet missile base.

The place was built by Stalin just before he died and many of his most valuable archives were moved there far outside Moscow where they would be safe from mobs in the city in case the Communists lost control one day. Well the day came a few years before I arrived and the KGB headquarters and archives in Moscow were stormed and destroyed when the Soviet Union collapsed. Of course the KGB had already removed anything of value, just as Saddam Hussein had moved the weapons of mass destruction long before the Americans invaded Iraq.

But people could not get to the Stalin archives in the frontier and thus I was hot on the trail of the truth about the Soviet empire. While interviewing and trying to train Russian librarians working for the archives I asked if they watched the news under the Soviets and they said yes. Yet they made it very clear they did not believe the news because the media and politicians were all controlled by more powerful forces. Imagine that! It could never happen in America.

So here we are today, well in to one of the warmest winters and years in history. People are traveling less and spending less because of previous horrendous hikes in oil prices last year. To my amazement, the oil people quietly released information late last week that oil prices have now increased five straight weeks. Heating oil use is way down. Gasoline use is way down. There were no hurricanes this past year. Energy conservation is way up. Yet the oil prices continue their upward climb.

What did the media or Congress or the White House have to say about this economic anomaly? Nothing? No answers and no questions. Do you find that a bit odd? I do. But the anomaly is still consistent with previous research I did and I have been waiting for the press or Congress to find the same information, what with their millions of dollars being spent investigating the high prices of oil.

When you slam down the gas pedal do you know where the gas comes from to get into your tank? Well crude oil is pumped from the ground all over the world but mostly from the Middle East. The barrels of crude are then sold on the energy futures markets in London and New York. Crude oil goes to refineries all over the place to be processed into fuel for heating, automobile use, and the millions of products made from petrol chemical feed stocks.

Multinational oil companies and a few governments own the oil reserves and they get their money back when the crude is sold on the futures markets, often before it is even pumped from the wells. Not a bad way to minimize losses, especially if the futures markets can prop up the cost of crude. All that takes is an occasional report from an independent financial analyst saying something bad about oil and the price skyrockets on the futures market. The financial analysts work for the financial institutions that finance oil companies and oil processing. One assumes they are truly independent otherwise their reports would be price fixing.

Who are the independent financial institutions whose reports influence the oil futures prices? You know them well because they probably handle some of your retirement or other money. Firms like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank (Germany), Société Générale (France) and others are among the biggest in the world. Among the major oil firms whose prices they influence are BP Amoco, Royal Dutch Shell and TotalfinaElf, all three among the top eight most profitable corporations in the world in 2005. So what do these international powerhouses from the financial and oil industries have in common that is not well known?

They were all launch partners of the privately held IntercontinentalExchange, Inc. which just happens to own the International Petroleum Exchange of London, one of the world’s largest energy futures and options exchanges. So the financiers of oil companies and the oil companies themselves are partners owning the very international oil exchange that determines the price of oil and the profits to be made from it throughout the world. By the way, is it any wonder oil industry analysts are always giving bad news that increases the price of oil?

Now why weren’t we told by our government, our Congress or our press of this obvious conflict of interest, the possible manipulation of prices, and most certainly the profiteering from spiraling oil prices by these multinational companies? Aren’t the stock and futures exchanges supposed to help regulate and bring credibility to the economic markets around the world? Maybe you should ask your favorite politicians what gives, and how much he or she received the last campaign from the financial and oil companies involved in these rather greedy business practices.

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